The most important day of the year

Independence. “Not relying on others for aid or support.” As we celebrate our nation’s independence today, my thoughts turn to the question, how can this not be a sad day?

If freedom is what we are celebrating, we have to look down the street and figure out a better way to help our neighbors be free. There is no freedom in poverty, and there are so many in our communities who, from the day they were born, know nothing but poverty. They are reliant on others for nearly everything they and their children need.

The solutions are not as difficult as they may seem. It simply takes focus and consistent effort. And where we fear making the type of effort necessary to create such significant change, we can just take small steps.

Pick a school with your company and commit to improving it – making sure every kid there can read at grade level. Watch how many of those kids choose something other than drugs or crime.

Bring your alumni group or your sorority to a middle school and inspire the girls to pursue something other than motherhood in their teen years. Watch how many girls do not end up in Section 8 Housing or on other forms of assistance for life.

Do you play on a team? Adopt a team in a low-income school or area and make sure they have equipment, maybe even college prep assistance. Watch how many light up at the thought of going to college.

Gather a group from your temple, church, business, or neighborhood and connect with leaders of low-income neighborhoods. Build blocks where you would want to live. Watch how the human connection changes human existence – for you and those you serve.

If we want to celebrate freedom and independence – really celebrate them – it is time for us to help all of our neighbors achieve that freedom and independence.

This Independence Day, let’s commit to helping our neighbors get to a place where they are not dependent upon someone else for their existence – for their food, their beds, and even their electricity and transportation. Today we have a challenge that requires the same level of effort and commitment that we saw in the civil rights movement.

Today is a good day to look at the fundamental spirit of our nation – to our founding document, the Declaration of Independence. How can we make it ring true?

The answer to that and to how we can ensure that this is not a sad day is by truly holding “these truths to be self-evident.” We, each of us, can get engaged and ensure that equality is what we have and that every child and every adult has a chance to pursue happiness.

Let’s create that, for when all of our neighbors are free, that will be a celebration worthy of our nation’s founding.

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